U.S. livestock: CME feeder cattle surge three-cent limit

(CMEGroup.com)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange feeder cattle contracts on Wednesday settled up at their maximum three-cents daily price limit, lifted by live cattle futures’ climb to a new high, traders and analysts said.

They also cited strong prices for calves for fattening and the corn price slide to a five year low.

Less costly feed could reduce input costs for feedlot operators.

October and November closed at 238.425 and 238.05 cents per pound, respectively (all figures US$).

Live cattle hit record high

CME live cattle hit an all-time high on fund buying and tight supply outlook, traders said.

October closed 2.025 cents/lb. higher at 162.475 cents, and December 2.425 cents higher at 165.9.

Live cattle futures advanced despite Wall Street’s abrupt retreat, partly over worries about the first case of the Ebola virus in the U.S.

The live cattle market sometimes responds to dramatic swings in the U.S. stock market because of its tie to consumer sentiment and demand for U.S. goods, a trader said.

But live cattle participants seemed focused on the market’s supportive fundamentals, including fewer available cattle after years of drought damaged crops in parts of the country, he said.

Investors await this week’s prices for market-ready, or cash, cattle that seek support from futures’ upswing and some packers needing supplies after buying sparingly in recent weeks.

But more cattle for sale, and reduced kills to improve packer margins and boost wholesale beef values, might pressure cash prices.

Last week, a small number of cash cattle in Nebraska sold at $157 to $159 per hundredweight (cwt), and less than 1,000 head traded at $158 in Kansas, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Most hogs close higher

CME hog futures closed mostly higher after traders sold the October contract and simultaneously bought back months in a trading strategy known as bear spreads.

Additionally, the October contract felt pressure in anticipation of a seasonal increase in supplies that could pull down cash hog prices.

Wednesday afternoon’s average hog price in Iowa/Minnesota slipped 13 cents per cwt from Tuesday to $108.71, but rose $1.11 in the eastern Midwest to $102.76, USDA said.

Wholesale pork demand could wane as retailers pad inventories for National Pork Month, traders and analysts said.

USDA’s data showed the afternoon’s wholesale pork price down 18 cents/cwt from Tuesday to $121.80, led by sharply lower pork belly costs.

Funds bought the December contract after it broke through the 10-day moving average of 94.70. February moved beyond where the 20-day and 100-day moving averages converged at 91.57 cents, which triggered fund buying.

October hogs closed down 0.375 cent/lb. to 107.6 cents. December finished up 0.35 cent to 94.875 cents, and February 1.425 cents higher at 91.85 cents.

— Theopolis Waters reports on livestock futures markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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